Instruction using the Web as a vehicle for content dissemination, and instructor– student interaction has increasingly dominated debates related to online learning (Nash, 2004). Much of the educational research in this area has focused on examining the importance of teacher–student and student–student interaction in the online learning process, and in particular the use of discussion/bulletin boards to foster the creation of an effective learning environment (Downing & Chim, 2004a). While some of this research has suggested effective ways of creating such an environment (Chou, 2001; Henri & Pudelko, 2003; Gilbert & Dabbagh, 2005), relatively few studies (De Laat & Lally, 2004; Yukselturk & Top, 2006) have undertaken detailed week-on-week analysis of tutor and student bulletin board activity throughout a semester, and used these data to make recommendations about how an effective online learning community can be established with appropriate use of the discussion/ bulletin board tools in Blackboard and Web CT.
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